Anita Baker: The Christmas Song
The Christmas Song
Anita Baker (vocals)
Jazz to the World (Blue Note CDP 72438 32127 2 9)
Anita Baker (vocals),
Composed by Mel Tormé & Robert Wells.
Recorded: New York, December 1994
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
This Anita Baker performance appears on the wonderful Jazz to the World CD, which was put together in 1994 to aid the Special Olympics. I highly recommend it. There are a few tunes that more than border on Smooth Jazz. (Excuse me while I burp up my eggnog.) But, it is a Christmas record. Even I can't be a humbug on this one.
Baker's rendition of "The Christmas Song" was recorded live in December 1994 at President Bill Clinton's Christmas Concert in New York City. That explains why the applause wasn't as gracious as it should have been. There weren't a lot of knowledgeable music fans in that crowd. That's not a political statement, just a comment on all the freebies that must have been handed out.
Though Baker has dabbled on the jazz outskirts from time to time, she has never fully jumped in, which is too bad. I know she has sold millions of records with her R&B soul. But it would have been nice if the jazz community could claim her as one of its own. She has a beautiful instrument that never fails to captivate. Her performance in front of a big band on this night was no exception. The woman has it all down. She has beautiful enunciation and mesmerizing phrasing. And most important, Baker conveys messages. She is so good on "The Christmas Song" that you could listen to this wonderful interpretation on July 4th and still think it was Christmas.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky